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By David Pascoe

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Extra resources for Airspaces

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3 Nevertheless, the catalogue accompanying the exhibition was distinguished by the inclusion of a specially commissioned essay by J. G. Ballard, whose novels have so obsessively inhabited the airspace in the vicinity of his home town in Shepperton, West London, to create a topography even stranger than fiction. In his most famous work, Crash, the deranged advertising executive cum ‘TV scientist’, Vaughan, regularly drives out to London Airport via the old Western Avenue, to photograph arriving celebrities, his zoom lens watching their every move ‘from the observation platform of the Oceanic Terminal’.

This is echoed in Warhol’s rendering of the tailplane, the charred empannage, whose expensive delicate ribbing, clearly visible in the UPI image has been painted out, to create a monolith. 51 In Warhol’s painting, all that remains of substance is the endless present of the headline ‘129 DIE’, the record of an interminable tense. Yet, in terms of his 61 career, the painting itself was oddly final. Perhaps intended as a memorial to a group of connoisseurs of fine art, 129 Die was the last of Warhol’s works to be executed using brushes; from here on his reproduction would be undertaken mechanically.

39 However, Issy was only ever an ad-hoc airfield; the first aerodrome, constructed in late 1908 at Juvisy, 15 miles south of Paris, was modelled on the hippodrome at Longchamp. Known as Port-Aviation, it was nothing more than a large flat field, covered in grass, about 800 yards in diameter; around its edges, the owners erected hangars, workshops and, uniquely, grandstands withh rudimentary catering facilities to accommodate several thousand visitors. The attraction for the visitor to PortAviation was simple: the aerodrome – the flat space on which planes arrived and departed – had became the new, modern threshold between one element and another, whose very design was, as it were, unlimited; it could define itself only spatially, only in terms of aircraft entering and leaving the frontier of airspace.

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